How To Spend Delta Air Lines SkyMiles – Simple Flying

Spending miles on flights is the most common way to use SkyMiles – this requires some understanding and flexibility to get the best value.
Spending miles is the fun part of the program! Once you have earned sufficient SkyMiles you can spend them. Using them for flights is the obvious (and often best value) choice, but there are other uses. This article takes a look at the details of spending miles with Delta Air Lines, SkyTeam alliance airlines and other partners, along with some other popular uses. For some ideas of the best value uses of miles, see our guide to the perks of the Delta SkyMiles program.
Like the other major US airline programs, Delta Air Line's SkyMiles has switched to dynamic award prices. Instead of having fixed price awards for any route, pricing is now variable and based on availability and underlying ticket price.
There is no set formula for these rates (although they are generally related to cash ticket price); you need to search for the flights and check the pricing. Be aware that having some flexibility in departure times and routes can make a big difference to the mileage required. Redemption rates go as low as 4,500 SkyMiles for short domestic flights. As reward pricing is generally tied to the cash price of the tickets, you should check both to ensure you are getting the value you want.
The example below show how pricing can differ between Delta Airl Lines flights for the same route on the same day:
SkyMiles can also be used for flights on any of Delta Air Line’s partners – this includes all SkyTeam alliance airlines plus several more. Delta has also dropped fixed award rates for these flights. As with Delta flights, you need to search the variable pricing for any flight.
This certainly makes award redemption complex. Delta does not have the same ability to open up any seat on partner airlines, though, and as a result, mileage pricing is more consistent. There will likely be many routes where partner flights are not available, whereas Delta flights might just charge a very high rate.
A few important things to be aware of when redeeming miles (for both Delta and partners):
Using miles for upgrades is another popular use of miles. Since the switch to a revenue-based system, this is generally not very good value with Delta. As with flight awards, there is no fixed upgrade amount, making planning to use these upgrades difficult.
There are two main ways to upgrade:
Flights awards and upgrades are usually been considered the best value use of miles. But there are other methods of using miles might make sense for you.
Redeeming miles for flights with Delta Air Lines or its partners remains the best value way to use miles – especially as Delta offers limited alternatives. The lack of tables or clearly defined redemption rates is sometimes challenging. The key is to be flexible and take your time to search widely. Feel free to share your experiences of redeeming miles in the comments.
Journalist – With almost a decade of experience in the publishing sphere, Justin has built up a deep understanding of the issues facing aviation today. With a keen interest in route development, new aircraft, and loyalty, his extensive travels with airlines such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific has given him profound direct comprehension of industry matters. Based in Hong Kong and Darlington, UK.
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